How to get the best value from a mobile group accommodation camp.
Most people are surprised at the costs associated with mobile group accommodation; in this article we’ll explore how to get the best value from a mobile group accommodation camp. We will also explain what goes into delivering a typical mobile tented camp.
As far as accommodation solutions go, we don’t think any can come close to offering the level of customisation and exclusivity that a mobile group accommodation option can provide. And this comes down to the number of variables available; location, size and style. And so, whilst this will probably be a completely novel and unique option for your group, chances are, given the variables, it will also represent one or more firsts for your camp operator.
Establishing the viability of a mobile group accommodation camp.
For the purposes of this article we will assume that the option of this type of accommodation has been decided upon for one or both of two reasons, there is simply insufficient accommodation at the time and place that you require. Or you are specifically looking for an event solution which is completely different from anything you have done before
Beginning with a ‘blank canvas’.
Camp operators are frequently asked to quote on camps and understandably the job of aligning expectations with delivery does take a little time, since clients are seldom aware of the options available to them. And neither will they be aware of what operators need to consider in order to provide a reasonably accurate quote.
Clients generally have an idea of the number of tents and beds (sharing or single), additional spaces which could include; lounging areas, dining areas, meeting tents etc that are required. Add to this; Location, and meal requirements and this will complete the basic requirements.
The mobile group accommodation operator needs to know if the location is tent ready, essentially relatively free of scrub and debris. Will it be accessible by truck or will they be required to ferry kit and equipment in smaller vehicles. Where the nearest potable water point is, availability of electricity and safety and security of guests and crew. Ablution facility requirements (1 per tent) or communal showers and toilets, and this is generally enough to provide a project estimate.
What happens once a mobile group accommodation camp has been confirmed?
Mobile Camp Operators typically work backward from the first day of the camp (D-Day or the day guests arrive);
D-Day minus 1 day. Camp is complete all tents are numbered, dressed, checked and ‘locked’.
D-Day minus 2 days. Accommodation tents are furnished and fitted and cabled for lighting.
D-Day minus 3 days. Dining / lounge tents are erected and furnished & fitted, accommodation tent sites are cleared of debris and erecting of tents begins.
D-Day minus 4 days. Kitchen tent is erected and fitted, central guest areas are cleared of debris and cabled.
D-Day minus 5 days. Arrive on site, off-load kit and equipment and erect and furnish crew tents.
D-Day minus 6 days. Load and Depart from warehouse.
D-Day minus 7 days. Stock picking, checking and packing.
The seven days spent preparing for the arrival of the group is then repeated in reverse upon departure of the group, and, give or take a day this is added to your group length of stay and they arrive at the total time allocated to your project.
Naturally there are some variables depending on the; size of camp, distance between location and warehouse, site readiness, weather etc. which may affect the schedule slightly, and this is generally factored in.
There is not much that can be done to make the process before and after the group stay more cost effective / efficient and throwing people at the task is not an option, and therefore this is a sunken cost which is carried by the client.
What you can do to get the best value from a mobile group accommodation camp
There are several possible scenarios which would have a positive effect on the project fee and by extension the cost per person per night.
Size of the group.
A camp is almost infinitely scalable and it goes without saying that the more guests and tents that can carry the sunken costs of logistics, camp construction etc, the lower the rate per head will be. The same can be said for ideal minimum numbers below which a camp becomes less financially viable. This minimum number will be different for each operator and is determined by their own overhead costs etc. In our case we have found that 40 guests in 20 tents is an optimal number before additional trucks etc need to be employed.
Length of stay.
One can imagine that amortising sunken costs over a 1-night booking will likely make the camp an expensive option, regardless of the number of tents / beds. A group mobile accommodation solution which is utilised for 3 or more nights has a significant cost saving effect.
Where possible consider rotating a large group through the camp in two or more smaller rotations on a back to back basis. In the case of a motor vehicle launch for example, this has worked very well and permitted maximum guest attention from the client.
Rationalise the amount of camp infrastructure.
Whilst private ablution facilities are always ideal, consider the option of communal facilities at a ratio which best fits your budget. This could be a combination of vip trailer toilets, executive porta loos and showers. Utilising dining / lounge infrastructure for meeting rooms could eliminate the need for additional function tents.
You may also want to consider changing the type of tent, for example whilst the safari tent is always likely to be your first choice, it is always going to be more expensive than our dome tents.
The adjacent image is an example of our safari tents. The style of the tent is based on the original safari tents of a bygone era and include an en-suite shower / toilet tent which adjoins the rear of the tent. Typically large groups opt for the explorer tent (dome tent), which is the mainstay of the mobile group accommodation camp industry owing to its ease of transport and erection. The explorer tent is also popular where communal ablution facilities are required.
Meal and menu planning.
Whilst we take it as a given that meals will be freshly prepared on-site, consider replacing the breakfast, lunch and dinner service with a brunch, high tea and dinner option.
Menu planning is an area where costs can quickly escalate given the infrastructure required, particularly for chilling of highly perishable foodstuff. Consider including seasonally available fresh produce, determined by your chosen location, and where possible avoid fresh chicken and fish.
It is a well-known fact that traditional hospitality establishments rely on bar revenue and in some cases room revenue is sacrificed in order earn revenue in the form of extras.
Consider requesting that the mobile camp operator stock beverages in the quantities and variety that suit your group on a consignment basis. You will be required to prepay for the purchase either directly with the supplier or through the camp operator. The operator will be able to record and manage your consumption with your participation in the process. Returned stock will be credited to your account.
Flexibility of dates and / or location.
Given the costs involved in logistics, camp set-up and strike, one can conclude that if two or more clients were sufficiently flexible in respect of their dates and location it may be possible to use one camp for both. It is unlikely that any two client briefs will be identical but there are likely to be more similarities than differences, which would require limited intervention by the operator to re-configure the camp for the next group.
It would be worthwhile asking when requesting a quote if there is already an existing booking of similar style and location, and perhaps some flexibility on your part may represent a significant saving in project fee.
Add your camp booking to an existing pop-up camp.
The advent of luxury pop-up camps has also now increased the number of camps and locations available to groups, and generally this offers the best value. You may be able to add your group at the beginning, during or the end of an existing pop-up camp. You can check out this link for what camps may be operational during your desired dates.
It is often only after a camp when one really understands just how much value a mobile group camp can offer. And for more information on our mobile group accommodation camp options please take a look at our mobile tented camps site.